In 1927 Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented the first automatic bread slicing machine. His first sale was in 1928 to a bakery in Chillicothe, Missouri and his second was to a baker in St. Louis that same year. In 1930 sliced bread was mass introduced with the roll out of Wonder Bread by Continental Baking Company (the company that also gave us the Twinkie!). Here’s the announcement of sliced bread in the Chillicothe newspaper on July 6, 1928:
The phrase “the coolest thing since sliced bread” or “the best thing since sliced bread” is a common phrase. I use it 5 – 10 times a year. Originally, the phrase was “a way of hyping a new product or invention may have come into use based on an advertising slogan for Wonder Bread, the first commercial manufacturer of pre-wrapped, pre-sliced bread. With such products rapidly penetrating the American home, automated bread-making was not only an invention benchmark, but also a key indicator of the mechanization of daily life from the 1930s onward.” Source. Now, it is used to refer to a product or invention that makes our lives easier.
Sliced bread is pretty great, but what are some other things invented since sliced bread that are better than sliced bread? Here are my nominations:
1. Remote Controls. Being able to control your TV, garage door, ceiling fan, fireplace, music, unlock your car, etc. remotely is something we now take for granted. I am old enough to remember not having TV remotes and then the introduction of remotes that were wired! Getting up to change the channel was a buzzkill!
2. Backup Cameras in Cars. How did we live without backup cameras? Prior to backup cameras, I reversed into three different cars! Expensive!
3. Drip coffee makers. It wasn’t until the 1970s that drip coffee makers began to replace the old percolator coffee makers which took a long time to brew. The introduction of a clock with a programable start on coffee makers was also a game changer.
4. Suitcases with wheels. While the first wheeled suitcase was invented in 1954, they didn’t catch on until flight crews began using them in the late 1980s. Prior to then people just carried their suitcases!
5. GPS. Even though widespread use of GPS is relatively recent, it is now hard to imagine life without GPS. Talk about something that is cooler than sliced bread — not having to ask for directions or using a map to figure out where to go is something we take for granted.
Update: other honorable mentions people have suggested: garage door openers, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, washing machines, garbage disposals, computers, calculators, and cell phones.